By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
Candidates for the Del Norte District Attorney's office and city council seats faced the voters last night, offering their vision for the jobs.
The election forum, sponsored by the Triplicate, drew a crowd of about 150.
Deputy District Attorney Nan Udell and Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Riese offered a clear distinction between their candidacies: progressiveness versus aggressiveness.
"What I am offering is a new perspective ¬Ė a different perspective," Udell told the audience of approximately 200 people. "I will bring efficiency to the D.A.'s office by restructuring the way attorneys manage their cases, by restructuring the way staff are assigned to attorneys, and I will bring accountability by keeping statistics..."
Riese focused on his endorsements from, and teamwork with, law enforcement agencies as his technique to manage cases from beginning to end. Riese also scoffed at Udell's suggestion of county programs spearheaded from the office to counsel young offenders.
"District attorneys are not social workers," Riese said about an office-sponsored drama program and girl's ranch that Udell supports. "If we had an overabundance of staff, an overabundance of money and an overabundance of time, it might be feasible to do something like that."
Udell told the voters that if they are happy with the way things are now to vote for Riese, but to vote for her if they want "change." Riese countered, saying "The status quo wasn't acceptable. I believe we can do a lot better."
City council candidates Dennis Burns, Ray Martell and Jack Burlake had less to differentiate themselves from each other. All three candidates, who are seeking spots on two open council seats, said the city needs to attract more jobs, improve its infrastructure and called for citizen involvement to fight crime and create civic pride.
Burns, an administrator with the Del Norte County Unified School District, said financial and city service incentives need to be given to businesses to get them to relocate to Crescent City.
"The city doesn't necessarily need to underwrite loans to these people but to help them get these loans," said Burns.
"Infrastructure is the main issue," said Martell, an environmental manager with the Elk Valley Rancheria. "Infrastructure is sewer and water systems, roads and power. They all have to be in place before we can offer anyone anything. We need this in order to grow."
Burlake, the only incumbent, said his teamwork and experience on the council has already led the city to a better position than it was in years ago.
"Today we have a stronger city, a city with a better infrastructure, a solvent city," Burlake said, adding civic pride will do more to attract jobs at this stage than anything else. "The jobs go where the boss wants to live. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has the money, the wherewithal and the ability to make those decisions. They come here, look around, and they see shopping carts, kids who want to look like gang-bangers and trash."